NBA Draft Lottery: Could the NBA's top pick be moved before the draft?

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Thumbnail image for jwall.jpgTeams just do not trade the top pick in the NBA Draft. Doesn’t happen.

It has been 17 years since the NBA’s top overall pick was traded before the draft. The fact is elite talent is just too hard to come by in the NBA, you need elite talent to win big and if you get the chance to draft it you don’t trade it away.

John Wall is an elite talent. In a league where point guard play dominates more and more (because of how the rules are enforced) Wall is going to be a force. In a few years he will be called one of the best point guards in the game. You can build around this guy.

And somebody might trade away his rights.

That’s because a lot of the teams at the top of the lottery food chain are actually set at point guard. They could take somebody else, or they could get a little value for that pick and move down a few spots for someone who really wants Wall.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a 19.9 percent chance at the top spot, but they drafted two point guards last year at fifth and sixth overall — Ricky Rubio, the sensation still playing in Europe and will be for at least another year; and Johny Flynn. What is worse, they have committed to run the triangle offense — a system that does not call for a strong point guard. If the T-Wolves win the lottery, they have some serious decisions to make about what kind of team they want to build and who of the three will be their point guard.

The Wolves could decide they don’t need another point guard and trade the pick. Or they could draft Wall and just start stockpiling point guards like food in bomb shelter.

The Sacramento Kings have a 15.6 percent chance of winning the top pick — and they are set at point guard with Tyreke Evans. The guy who just won the Rookie of the Year Award and averaged 20 points and five assists per game. He is going to be an elite point, and the Kings have committed to building around him. If they get the top pick, you would think they would listen to offers.

Golden State has a 10.4 percent chance of the top pick, and their entire backcourt is overloaded with young players. They have Stephen Curry, the guy who finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting and a guy who stepped into the point guard role last season. They also have Monta Ellis who can run the point.

The bigger problem in the Bay Area is the team is for sale and nobody knows how long that will take, so consequently nobody knows who will be the coach come the fall and what style of basketball will be played. If Don Nelson is running the show, Wall in a three-guard offense can work. But then again, Nelson may sit him. The whole situation there is unpredictable.

If the Nets — the favorites at 25 percent after their horrid 12-win season – win the lottery tonight this talk is moot. They will not trade. But if the top pick and the rights to Wall do fall down the ladder, LeBron James may not be the only player move fans discuss for the next month.

Kevin Durant: Liking anti-Russell Westbrook Instagram comment was ‘total accident’

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Kevin Durant liked an Instagram comment critical of Russell Westbrook.

Here we go again?

Royce Young of ESPN:

I’m not inside Durant’s mind. He could be lying to cover another burner Instagram snafu.

But I tend to believe him. It’s easy enough to accidentally click like, and the greater context is on his side.

Durant has always tried to downplay a feud with Westbrook. Even at the personal rivalry’s peak, Durant just seemed as if he wanted Westbrook to like him. So, it’s nearly impossible to believe Durant – even for a button-pushing moment – wanted to publicly slight Westbrook.

But maybe Durant wanted quiresultan or some other alter-ego to do so? Maybe, as beaten down as he looked by the controversy over those deleted tweets last summer, Durant didn’t learn his lesson and still uses burner accounts. I certainly wouldn’t rule that out.

Again, though, this would be a weird message. Last summer’s deleted tweets praised Westbrook while slamming the rest of the Thunder. Durant was going to have a burner account take the opposite stance now? That doesn’t really add up.

NBA apparently reviewing whether Russell Westbrook should be suspended for Thunder-Jazz Game 5

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The NBA has a hard rule during altercations: Any players who leave the bench area receives a one-game suspension. Intent doesn’t matter. It’s not negotiable. The league simply doesn’t want more players entering a fracas.

Russell Westbrook found a gray area last night.

The Thunder star was waiting to check into Oklahoma City’s Game 4 loss to the Jazz when Raymond Felton fouled Rudy Gobert, um, unpleasantly. Gobert and Felton got into it, though not immediately. Once they did, Westbrook walked onto the court, and he and Gobert swiped at each other.

Gobert and Felton eventually received technical fouls. But could harsher punishment be in store, especially for Westbrook?

Andy Larsen of KSL.com:

A pool reporter request to the game officials to ask them about the play was initiated, but the NBA indicated that the officials wouldn’t comment on the matter because it would be reviewed by the league’s disciplinary committee.

The key question should be: Did a referee already beckon Westbrook into the game? If one did, Westbrook shouldn’t be suspended. If none did, Westbrook should be suspended.

The league will talk to the refs and get a better understanding of what happened. Their account matters most.

But one indicator working against Westbrook: Steven Adamswhose toughness is beyond reproach – was also waiting to check in and stayed on the sideline. If Adams had already entered the game, wouldn’t he have gotten involved? Maybe not, but his hanging back is circumstantial evidence pointing toward a Westbrook suspension.

Again, though, the referees’ accounts matter far more.

Russell Westbrook on matchup with Ricky Rubio: ‘Let’s get past that. We’re done with that’

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images
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After Ricky Rubio‘s 26-point triple-double in Game 3, Russell Westbrook said, “I’ma shut that s— off next game though. Guarantee that.”

Westbrook definitely tried. The Thunder star defended Rubio far more aggressively in Game 4 last night. But Westbrook also fouled Rubio four times in the first half and played too out of control, committing five turnovers. Rubio (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists) wasn’t nearly as individually excellent, but his passing keyed the Jazz’s offense.

Most importantly, Utah outscored Oklahoma City by 12 in the 30 minutes the point guards shared the court and won 113-96 to take a 3-1 series lead.

How did the matchup with Rubio go, Russ?

Westbrook:

It’s not about me and him. Let’s get past that. We’re done with that.

How convenient.

Westbrook is the one who brought attention to the individual matchup. He took stopping Rubio upon himself. Now, when it didn’t go well, Westbrook suddenly doesn’t want to talk about it?

Maybe Westbrook realized he got carried away, to the detriment of his team. It’s not too late to fix that, and this could be his attempt to do so before Game 5 Wednesday.

But he also must own the egg on his face for putting the spotlight on Westbrook-Rubio and then dodging the attention once the matchup went south.

Rockets 50, Timberwolves 20: Most dominant playoff quarter in shot-clock era (video)

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James Harden missed a floater and clapped in frustration. The Rockets’ third quarter in Game 4 against the Timberwolves didn’t get off to a great start. Harden’s shooting had underwhelmed since Game 2.

Then, Harden and Houston broke out of the funk – in a big way.

The Rockets outscored Minnesota 50-20 in the third quarter of their 119-100 victory last night, giving Houston a 3-1 lead in the first-round series. The 30-point margin in the third quarter was tied for the most lopsided playoff quarter in the shot-clock era:

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Harden singlehandedly outscored the Timberwolves himself, 23-20. Paul added 15.

The Rockets shot 5-of-10 on 2-pointers, 9-of-13 on 3-pointers and 13-of-13 on free throws. Houston committed no turnovers and offensively rebounded a third of its misses.

It was incredible output, even for the NBA’s best offense.

The Rockets’ 50 points were second-most in a playoff quarter – and the most in a victory – in the shot-clock era. The leaderboard:

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